Allocating COVID-19 Vaccines: Save One for the Second Dose?

33 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2021 Last revised: 16 Aug 2021

See all articles by Robert A. Shumsky

Robert A. Shumsky

Dartmouth College - Tuck School of Business

James Smith

Dartmouth College

Anne Hoen

Department of Epidemiology, Geisel School of Medicine

Michael Gilbert

Catholic Medical Center

Date Written: August 10, 2021

Abstract

The majority of COVID-19 vaccines currently available are typically administered in two doses, with a prescribed number of weeks separating the two doses. Because of uncertainty in vaccine supply, many vaccination managers have saved doses in inventory to ensure on-time second doses. However, saving doses slows the administration of first doses and potentially delays completing the vaccination of the target population. In this paper, we use a mathematical model to explore the performance of policies to manage the administration of two-dose vaccines given supply uncertainty. The mathematical structure of the model suggests simple ``set-aside'' policies that prioritize second doses and set aside some vaccine for second doses that are due in the coming weeks; any remaining vaccine is given as first doses. We can determine good set-aside policies using a simple simulation model. In our numerical experiments, the performance of the recommended set-aside policy is close to a bound generated by the optimal allocation given perfect information about vaccine supply; thus the set-aside policies are nearly optimal given uncertainty in supply. We also find that a "lockbox'' policy that ensures no second doses will be delayed appears to be overly conservative. We also show that set-aside policies perform well when vaccination supply is increasing and when two two-dose vaccines are available.

Note: Funding Statement: No funding was received for this work.

Declaration of Interests: No conflict of interests exists.

Keywords: Vaccination; Dynamic Programming; Policies; Inventory; Stochastic Models

Suggested Citation

Shumsky, Robert A. and Smith, James and Hoen, Anne and Gilbert, Michael, Allocating COVID-19 Vaccines: Save One for the Second Dose? (August 10, 2021). Tuck School of Business Working Paper No. 3816200, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3816200 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3816200

Robert A. Shumsky (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Tuck School of Business ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States

James Smith

Dartmouth College ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States
6036461431 (Phone)
03755 (Fax)

Anne Hoen

Department of Epidemiology, Geisel School of Medicine ( email )

1 Rope Ferry Road
Hanover, NH 03755-1404
United States

Michael Gilbert

Catholic Medical Center ( email )

100 McGregor St.
Manchester, NH 03102
United States
03102 (Fax)

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